While discussing the impact of the digitisation of customer experience management at the recent IQPC Customer Experience Summit in Sydney, Starr - a principal consultant with Interactive Intelligence - said the key is to run systems that deliver on customers’ expectations, not the experience as perceived in the boardroom.
“I think most organisations are looking for any direction that’s surprising for the customer. You know, the customer walks away saying ‘wow, I’m surprised that it was that easy’.”
Speaking as a member of an event panel chaired by Cyrus Allen, Partner of Stravity Group, Starr offered many insights, drawing from his experience working with Interactive Intelligence - a global provider of enterprise-grade collaboration, communications and customer engagement software and cloud services that help improve service, increase productivity and reduce costs.
With consumers preferring digital service channels to traditional call centres at “a massive rate”, Starr said organisations need to start implementing the right tools to suit their strategy, while aligning their own expectations with that of the customer.
“We’re seeing that voice conversations are going down very quickly as a result of consumers taking advantage of web sale service, online chat, email, and all sorts of new channels,” he said.
“Far and away, customers are very happy to adopt a digital environment, so long as we’re able to offer that within the timeframes and the preferences they choose.”
Fellow panellist, Wayne McGlone – Group manager of customer service for South East Water – said digitising their customer experience has “just changed everything”.
“There’s been a change in the whole profile of the organisation and it’s really important for us that customer’s use those digital channels. You’ve got to be able to respond quickly,” said McGlone.
“You’ve got to be much more agile. The traditions from the past are all challenged, so the organisation changes completely in the way that it thinks about itself.
“That’s also going to have an impact on your people and their adaption right to the change in the organisation. That’s what we’ve experienced at South East Water.”
Understanding your customer
In order to meet these preferences, Starr said it’s essential to understand who your customers are, by recognising the varying intergenerational requirements and subsequently identifying the correct channels for them.
“People will still move across channels, it’s difficult to have channels in a silo. If they don’t get the answer they want in the time they want it, they will quickly move to another channel,” he warned.
“Being able to provide a consistent level of service across each channel is therefore really important. If I have gone into your chat channel and you haven’t answered my question appropriately, I’ll move onto another channel and the customer service person who’s dealing with that inquiry should be aware that the customer has already tried previous channels.”
Starr emphasised the need to be dynamic in any changes made to structures and processes due to customer demand, by ensuring everything is done in real time, and visible to people across various different operations.
“At Interactive Intelligence we have a platform - along with CRM, Salesforce and similar tools - that tracks every interaction with a customer, offline or online, so that every time they interact with us we’re able to identify what media type or what channel they’ve come in on,” he said. “As a result, we can build routing strategies associated with that to enable them to talk to the most appropriate person within that channel.”
Stick to your strategy
In following this process, it’s important to ensure that any investments in the digital CX space are purely strategic and not just digital for digital’s sake, Starr said.
Companies should take time in their technology selection process to make sure these investments will be aligned with current strategy.
“It’s the old adage - a business strategy is most useful for telling you what you’re not going to do. A really good corporate strategy should help you decide what you should focus on now, and what you should ignore for the time being,” he said.
Another fellow panellist, Danielle Cerin - Janssen-Cilag ANZ multi-channel Manager, used her own pharmaceutical company as an example of operating to strategy. “For us it’s also about providing solutions for customers to resolve pain points so that they see our company is a little bit of a partner to them rather than just being there pushing product to you,” said Cerin.
“We want to show that we’re actually providing solutions that help them in their daily practice and also with their patients, so we’re really adding some extra value as well as a product. For us that’s pretty critical.”
Starr also compared the expected service offerings of a company like Tiger Air - which runs more on affordability than premium sophisticated services - with Qantas, at the other end of the spectrum, always thinking of ways to improve engagement channels.
“It depends entirely on the business,” he said. “Define the experience level and then craft your omnichannel strategy as a response to that experience definition that you’re going for.
“We don’t have an over investment problem, but we certainly do have other challenges,” added Cerin, referring to the sometimes over-zealous approach organisations have with regards to social media.
“You see organisations constantly jumping straight into the new cool thing without really thinking about what they’re trying to do. Don’t jump straight to the tactic. Let’s go back to what you’re actually trying to achieve with your customers.
“What do they really need? What’s the ultimate goal? Let’s go back to that and actually see if social media is a fit or not because it may not be.”
“Don’t do anything unless you’re going to do it well,” added Starr.
Customer Experience Design
Starr and his colleagues at Interactive Intelligence have recently collaborated with customer experience consultants, Fifth Quadrant, to release new research into ‘Customer Experience Design’, or how to optimise systems for more effective customer experience.
Customer Experience Design uses the design process with a focus on the customer’s experience to understand the emotions, needs, expectations and actions taken by customers when interacting with a business.
The whitepaper based on this research demonstrates how this knowledge can be employed, specific to insurance firms, in the development and implementation of systems and processes that are better aligned to customers.
“Organisations traditionally develop systems that align with their own needs and processes but don’t adequately take into consideration the needs, preferences and requirements of the customer,” said Starr.
“This can be rectified through an approach such as Customer Experience Design, which builds systems and processes that are more engaging for customers.”